In all honesty I initially had no intention to review this evening’s show at Huntington Bank Pavilion (Aug. 31), but it did not take long for that to change.
It’s been about a year since the last time Chicago was invaded by my favorite French men, Phoenix, when they stopped through after announcing a new album, Alpha Zulu, that has since released. And as frontman Thomas Mars said himself at the time, “to shake off some dust” and integrate some of their newer songs into the band’s setlist catalog. They’ve been literally touring around the world since and have clearly become very comfortable onstage and a setlist order that sounded seamless all the way throughout their performance. It seemed like an eternity since the Summer Odyssey tour with Beck was announced along with their collaborative single aptly named “Odyssey.”
My biggest complaint for the evening was solely as a photographer and restrictions to shoot their performance from what seemed like miles away especially, given Mars' tendency to be so interactive with the crowd always makes for more exciting photos and our cameras were left with very little interaction with the band and their performance. But what we lacked in variety of shots, the band definitely made up with energy and adoration for the city and fans of Chicago. There is something to be said for the length of time in between the band’s visits through town as clearly wee mostly performance ideas a year ago have been more fleshed out and more honed in translating both beautifully and succinctly in a bear visual masterpiece.
Similarly to the band’s appreciation to art throughout their newest album, their presentation tonight could easily be framed and showcased on a gallery wall. It would not be a Phoenix show if Mars did not make his way through the crowd expressing his personal gratitude and appreciation to the bands fans and heaving himself up on their hands for a grand finale wave of thanks.
It’s been over a decade since my last time seeing Beck, which was in a festival setting up in the Pacific Northwest and according to Beck, it’s been nearly a decade since the last time he played a show in Chicago. Regardless of the time, which may have contributed to the maturing of his stage performance because he really seemed alive onstage with a renewed enjoyment to be performing. He definitely touched upon all the hits and favorites almost similarly like his own “Eras” like performance, although disappointingly nothing from one of my personal favorite albums, Mutations or more songs from The Information. Super nerdy fan me would’ve loved to see him include one of his singles he’s released over the years as well like “Vampire Voltage No. 6” Anyway I digress from the fact that I was pleasantly wowed by the evenings performance and his agility on stage.
From a photo standpoint, I was grateful he allowed us to shoot his entire performance which was nice because there were many visual moments throughout the evening I got a chance to capture. I can appreciate his performance and selections from his catalog of the past thirty years of making music as the perfect sampler for a new generation of listeners who may had come primarily for his co-headliners and came away new fans of his music. I personally enjoyed the evolved presentation of favorite songs from my own teenage years and how ahead of his time and trend Beck has continued to be throughout his career. He finished off the evening by inviting Phoenix back up on stage for the collaborative single “Odyssey” and crowd pleaser “Where It’s At.” Thank you both for a memorable evening and hopefully won’t have to wait as long for a returned visit.
Love Like a Sunset Parts 1/2
If I Ever Feel Better
Trying to Be Cool
The New Pollution
Que ‘Onda Guerro
Nicotine + Gravy
Think I’m in Love
Soul of a Man
The Golden Age
One Foot in the Grave
Where It’s At *
* performed by Beck with Phoenix